When I was a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign I joined my dream a cappella group and participated in my first International Competition of College A Cappella (ICCA). I had never even heard of ICCA, but we practiced every night leading up to it and worked really well as a team. We drove to Centerville High School in Centerville, Ohio and competed. That night we took second place and advanced to the ICCA Semifinals. That joy is a memory I will have forever.
In 2015 when I began teaching at Guilford High School, one of the first things I did was start an a cappella group. Six months earlier I was at my last ICCA competition, and I heard a high school group that won their quarterfinal the night before. They were amazing and I thought to myself "I can do that." I created a group named #harmonics (said "sharp harmonics," but it's a hashtag. Get it?) and submitted an audition video. I will never forget how proud that group was that they were accepted into the competition. We put together a great set, and that group really paved the way for the groups to follow.
The #harmonics have continued to push themselves more and more each year. Last year we had a great group that really wanted to do well at their quarterfinal. We put in many hours before and after school that year, pushing ourselves to be the best we could. Even though we didn't place, I was proud of how far that group had come from the year before. It set a foundation for the group this year who are mostly returning students from last year.
When we received our competition details back in November, we were slightly worried. We knew that it was going to take a lot of work to get our set competition ready on Jan. 18, when we were used to competing in February or March. Since this group knew what it would take to place, we really pushed ourselves. It really helped that this year was the first year #harmonics met as a class during the day. Getting to work with each other every day helped us get ready a lot sooner. We still put in those hours after school and it paid off. We placed second and advanced to semifinals on March 14!
A lot of the students in this group have been a part of it for two-to-three years. I am so happy to see this team finally rewarded for their hard work. It was also exciting to beat other schools in Illinois who have more resources and equipment than we have. We beat some high schools that have won this competition before. It was also amazing to see Joy Murphy win Best Arrangement and Trentin Woodard win Best Vocal Percussion. Joy has been arranging for this group for three years, and it was great to see her hard work pay off. I know Trentin has put in a lot of work practicing vocal percussion on his own, so it was great to see him rewarded as well.
Check out a blog post by Guilford #harmonics team captain, Lola Kovanda: My Favorite Moment: Guilford #harmonics advance to a cappella semifinals.
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